WORST OF TIMES
Rugby world quakes as rule change ups Japan’s yen for foreign players
Brace yourselves Boks, Wallabies, All Blacks because new rules mean Top League is sure to target your charges
When Springbok flyhalf-cum-fullback Jaco van der Westhuyzen joined Japanese club NEC in 2004, he was one of 73 South Africans who had contracts with top clubs abroad.
Of course, those numbers soon multiplied, with South Africans not just taking flight around the rugby world, but developing a particular affinity for sushi, bullet trains and the sight of cherry blossoms.
Japan has increasingly become the destination of choice for the southern hemisphere’s top players, who are drawn to the country for its lifestyle, less demanding toll on the body, its Top League’s brevity and perhaps, above all, its abundance of yen...